There is a very popular trend in the world of movie criticism in which films are labelled overrated or underrated by critics and regular film-goers. Overrated of course being a description of a film that is a critical or box-office success that is undeserving of its praise and profit while underrated describes a critical or box-office failure that deserved more praise than it received.
But now that I have considered these long-accepted definitions of underrated and overrated I realise that these terms are often misapplied since they often do not exactly fit the accepted definition when used.
For example, the paranormal-romantic film Twilight and its sequels have been labelled underrated by many people who have heard the negative criticism the films and popular books have received lately, but as we all know; Twilight and its sequels were box-office successes. So the question arises: How can a film that is a box-office success be underrated if it is receiving a ton of praise and revenue and is beloved by a large number of fans? (The Michael Bay Transformers flicks raise similar questions.)
As I make mention of these puzzling examples one should note that these films mentioned above are equally being regarded as overrated by a group of roughly the same size as the group who call them underrated.
Does that mean that one group is right and the other wrong? I don’t think so. I think there is much simpler explanation for the apparent contradictions.
I think it is a matter of demographics. Admit it or not, we all inhabit preferred niches when it comes to likes and dislikes. As a film buff and SF/Fantasy addict I tend to associate myself with people who are likewise film buffs and SF/Fantasy addicts. In that community are mostly people who despise Twilight and Michael Bay’s films as overrated tripe and CGI-infested garbage. There are some in my niche who like Transformers and the Twilight saga, but I cite them only as exceptions and prefer not to give them too much mention as they would needlessly complicate the issue I am raising and leave it muddled.
However, when those in my community and I are arguing that these films are being overrated that logically points to the fact that someone out there is overrating them. But by whom? Definitely no one in my community. This points to the existence of another community who in a bizarre twist love Twilight and Transformers and regard them as underrated by people like myself.
Has anyone else noticed that we see on Facebook and Twitter an ass-load of people complaining about Justin Bieber’s music being overrated and sucking? But when we stop and listen for Bieber’s millions of defenders we hear only silence. So why the hell are we complaining about someone who apparently has no real fans around in the first place? Once again I point to demographics. We belong to one group and have little to no dealings with the other. Which seems to render our complaining pointless since the only ones to hear our complaints already agree with us and validate our views.
Bieber does have fans. And so do Twilight and Transformers. But these fans inhabit a forbidden zone in which we dare not enter. A place where everyone talks about how overrated Star Wars is, how geeky and uncool comic books are, and how Twilight is unappreciated by angry judgmental assholes who probably never read Meyer’s romantic masterpieces anyway.
Is that a place you want to visit? I know I don’t. But I gave up hating its occupants a long time ago. Why? Because I am comfortable in my own niche. I don’t need to worry if I think a film is being overlooked or praised too high. I know my tastes and so do my friends who share my views. And even when my friends don’t agree with my opinions I don’t feel threatened because I am amongst people I can respect for thinking for themselves.
Can a movie truly be overrated? I am starting to see that everything is a matter of taste. Movies like Avatar, Gattaca, or Transformers are each gonna be regarded as overrated, underrated, and mixed all at the same time by different groups. My community may think Transformers is overrated, but those who like them probably are at this moment discussing how those in my niche are not appreciating Transformers for some merits I must be missing. In the end it is not really a big deal. At the close of each day an opinion is still just an opinion.
Contributor: Rick McGimpsey