If you’re about to drop 30 bucks on movie tickets and popcorn at your local cineplex, or pay 4.99 to rent a movie on Amazon, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out the movie’s score on Rotten Tomatoes before you fork over the cash. (Or better yet, check out the Screen Rant review!) Rotten Tomatoes can be a pretty reliable source, after all: they compile the reviews of every critic on their site and offer you a snappy, spoiler-free blurb to let you know what you’re getting into before you sacrifice your time or money. But that’s not to say that that Rotten Tomatoes always gets it right.
Action flicks, horror films, and raunchy comedies are too often trampled upon, while biopics and moody character studies can receive an overwhelming amount of praise. Sometimes you’ll totally avoid a movie that was lambasted by critics only to stumble upon it years later and discover that it definitely wasn’t that bad. Or worse yet, you’ll go into a movie thinking that it’s going to be life-changing only to discover that it was simply better than average.
So we think it’s only fair to fill you in on the 15 Times Rotten Tomatoes Scores Were Way Off In 2016.
15. X-Men: Apocalypse – 48%
If a rating drops below 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s no longer declared “Fresh” and thus is implied that the movie probably isn’t worth your while. While we agree that X-Men: Apocalypse failed to live up to the other films in the X-Men prequel series, we gave the film a positive review and found that comic book fans in particular would find this installment of the series satisfying overall.
The film’s major misfire is with its villain, Apocalypse, who comes off as being pure, unwavering evil that is ultimately not very interesting. Maybe this was done in an attempt to differentiate Apocalypse from the other series villains, who are far more layered and often morally conflicted. However, one imperfect character isn’t enough to make the film unwatchable when it has a lot more going for it. Both Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy continue to compel audiences with their portrayals of Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier, and director Bryan Singer also introduced a fair share of interesting newcomers to pave way for more X-Men films. While the film isn’t the best of the series, it’s certainly worth a watch for X-Men aficionados.
14. The Accountant – 51%
It’s been a rough year critically for the newest Batman. The Accountant finds Ben Affleck playing Christian Wolff, a forensic accountant with a high-functioning form of autism. Christian uses his unique skills as a math savant and a combat expert to work for a number of criminal organization who pay him in rare comic books, famous paintings, and gold bricks.
While the film struggles to make a number of tonal shifts, many critics made an easy target out of Affleck’s character, criticizing that throwing a character with autism into the middle of an action movie was terribly insensitive. While the premise is not without its controversy, we found Affleck’s performance to be the highlight of the movie. In our review for the film we found the character of Christian “genuinely disarming and endearing” and ultimately one of Affleck’s better career performances. In fact, in addition to seeing Affleck reprise his role as Bruce Wayne, we wouldn’t mind seeing him go another round as Christian Wolff in an Accountant sequel.
13. Sully – 85%
This is the first film out of four on this list where the critics on Rotten Tomatoes have seemed to over-praise a film and give it a higher score than it deserves. With Clint Eastwood behind the camera, Tom Hanks in front of it, and a real life act of heroism as the story’s jumping off point, Sully comes across as pure Oscar bait. Though Hanks and Eastwood’s talent cannot be denied, Sully itself feels too short on story to be ranked among the year’s best films.
The film revolves around real-life pilot Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Hanks) who safely landed the Airbus A320 on the Hudson River back in 2009, saving all 155 passengers aboard. The film frequently flashes back to the “Miracle on the Hudson” scenes, showing the events unfold from multiple points of view. However, the intensity of the event quickly begins to dull as the repetitiveness wears out its welcome. Sully’s investigation by the NTSB comes off as another plot devise to keep the stakes of the story raised as well, since in real life the NTSB ultimately praised Sully for his act of heroism. Hanks remains captivating throughout the film, but even at 96 minutes the story feels stretch too thin, making Sully ultimately a forgettable film.
12. 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – 50%
Certain directors are commended for tackling controversial subject matters: Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese, even Steven Spielberg. If you were reading closely, you noticed that we didn’t included Michael Bay on that list. No, Michael Bay is the king of style over substance, and while many of his films have deserved the Rotten ranking they’ve received, we think 13 Hours deserves a second look.
Of course, the 2012 attack of an American diplomatic compound in Libya has been marred by political controversy, and many critics on Rotten Tomatoes wish that a more suitable director had taken up the task of telling the story. However, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi is less interested in swaying public opinion and is far more focused on exploring a solider’s heroism. Unlike many of Bay’s films, his latest endeavor doesn’t glorify violence; it portrays it as harrowing and often horrific. Though the film may not be in the same league as Black Hawk Down or Lone Survivor, 13 Hours still moves along at a swift and engaging pace from start to finish.
11. Blair Witch – 35%
When The Blair Witch Project came out in 1999 it was some what of a phenomenon. The found footage film was made on such a low budget, and the supernatural elements were kept so scarce, that many feared the movie may have been legitimate. Of course, those beliefs have long since blown over and the found footage genre has experienced its fair share of ups and down in the subsequent 17 years. While we never expected last year’s Blair Witch to live up to the original, the film was an entertaining and, more importantly, a fairly creepy addition to the series.
The critics’ reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are overwhelmingly bad, citing the latest installment as simply a retread of the first movie, only filmed with modern equipment. While the film does start out similarly to The Blair Witch Project, it also manages to forge its own path through the woods around the film’s halfway mark, exploring the mythology of the eponymous witch without sacrificing scares in the process. While the film may not win over die-hard fans of the original, Blair Witch does manage to breathe new life into the series following the disastrous sequel Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.
10. The Legend of Tarzan – 36%
Why so much hate for the King of the Jungle? This one we can’t seem to figure out, as The Legend of Tarzan turned out to be one of the more enjoyable popcorn movies released this passed summer. Sure, the character of Tarzan is inherently absurd (and probably best suited within the confines of a cartoon) but The Legend of Tarzan brought a layer of believability to the story well beyond the requirements of a summer blockbuster. The film even managed to slip into a few lists of our favorite films from last year.
Alexander Skarsgard certainly looked the part to play Tarzan/John Clayton III/Lord Greystoke (seriously, three names?) and the rest of the cast was filled with more than capable actors, including Margot Robbie as Jane and Christoph Waltz as yet another villain. And what would a summer blockbuster be without a trigger-happy Samuel L. Jackson? Director David Yates (who helmed the last four Harry Potter films) seamlessly blends live-action with CGI to bring the story of Tarzan to life, and creates a thoroughly entertaining film in the process.
9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – 38%
After the disappointment of the 2014 reboot, last year’s sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles proved to be a massive step in the right direction for the TMNT franchise. While Out of the Shadows is no where near perfect, it does a good job at capturing the essence of the 1980s series while dialing back on the unnecessary seriousness of its predecessor.
Many of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes have been ruthless in their review for the film, calling it torturous and a complete waste of time. Our counter point is that you don’t go to a movie about humanoid turtles fighting crime expecting to witness a masterpiece; you go because you’re a fan of the series or the comic book, and you’re ready for some over-the-top action punctuated with some beyond-corny one liners. And in that regard, Out of the Shadows is a success. Fans of the series will be particularly pleased with all the references to the animated series, along with the updated version of Bebop and Rocksteady, who are just as rambunctious and disgusting as they should be.
8. The Free State of Jones – 47%
For a while there, it seemed like the McConaissance would never come to an end. Within just three years, Matthew McConaughey starred in The Wolf of Wall Street, Mud, True Detective, and Dallas Buyers Club— which earned McConaughey the Oscar for Best Actor. Then The Sea of Trees premiered at Cannes in 2015 and was universally panned by critics. (It currently holds a 12% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) While we have no intention of defending The Sea of Trees, which truly is a bad movie, The Free State of Jones really wasn’t as bad as many critics made it out to be.
The film follows the true story of Newton Knight, a Mississippi farmer who deserts the Confederate Army and leads a revolt in Jones County, Mississippi. While the film is overly ambitious in telling the tale of Knight — which results in a few two many subplots that never feel fully resolved — the film will is a must-watch for those interested in unknown American history. Much of the film was shot in the American South, and factual text often appears onscreen to give the audience historical context while the tale of Knight unfolds. Usually critics are more apt to take a liking to historically biopics, but in the case of The Free State of Jones, audiences actually seem to enjoy the movie more.
7. Barbershop: The Next Cut – 90%
As far as delayed comedy sequels go, Barbershop: The Next Cut certainly does a better job than Zoolander 2, or the unforgivable continuation of Lloyd and Harry’s friendship in 2014’s Dumb and Dumber To. Where these films failed, Barbershop: The Next Cut succeeds in honoring its characters while giving audiences a new story that’s actually worth telling. But to give it a 90% rating, ranking it amongst the year’s best, is overstating things somewhat.
The film follows Calvin (Ice Cube) and Angie (Regina Hall) after they merge their barbershop and salon into one business to combat economic hardship. While the film works well as a battle between the sexes, it falls short while trying to tackle more serious issues, such as African American politics and gang violence. While many of the actors have strong comedic chops, they feel out of place when the scenes unexpectedly shift gears. This is particularly the case with Cedric the Entertainer, whose character of Eddie is so over-the-top he can come across as downright cartoonish. Barbershop: The Next Cut isn’t a bad film by any means, it’s just far from essential viewing.
6. Blood Father – 89%
Yet another film that we feel like critics backed a little too wholeheartedly, Blood Father may be a decent action film, but it’s too full of cliches to warant the stellar rating that it received. The film stars Mel Gibson as a deadbeat father and ex-convict who puts his unsavory skills to good use in an attempt to protect his daughter from the drug cartel. Sound familiar? Well, he also lives in a trailer and has a history of heavy drinking.
While Gibson looks undoubtably tough with his grizzly grey beard, the character itself feels derivative of other “bad guys gone good” that we’ve seen in a plethora of other action flicks. While audiences seem to like the film, they’ve rated it nowhere near as high as the critics on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, Blood Father somehow managed to garner a higher rating than Hacksaw Ridge, a far more original film that Gibson directed in 2016.
5. Pali Road – 55%
This lesser known romance film follows a young doctor (Michelle Chen) who wakes up after a car accident only to discover that she’s married to a man she doesn’t love and living a life she can’t remember. For a romance movie, the basic premise is certainly original, and Pali Road is able to explore themes of love and loss without falling into the cliches synonymous with chick flicks.
Despite scoring high user ratings on both Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb, the critics on Rotten Tomatoes have ranked the film with only a 55% approval rating, citing it as messy psychological thriller that takes itself too seriously. While Pali Road is not without its overly sentimental moments, the story and performance by Michelle Chen are far more impactful than expected. The film even won a number of top awards at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, including Best Actress and Best Cinematography. If you’re in the mood for a mysterious romance, you could certainly do worse than Pali Road.
4. Don’t Think Twice – 99%
When a movie gets a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, you expect it to be near flawless. Other films that have scored in the high-90s this year included Kubo and the Two Strings, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and Golden Globe Best Picture Winner Moonlight. Audience tend to agree with these high marks, and so do we, but Don’t Think Twice seems to have a harder time pleasing audiences as much as it has pleased the critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
The dramedy stars Keegan-Micheal Key (Key and Peele) as a member of New York improv troupe. His relationship with his fellow team members grows complicated when he’s selected to star on an SNL-type show. Though the film isn’t meant to be laugh-out-loud from start to finish, many of the jokes won’t land with a mainstream audiences, as writer/director Mike Birbiglia’s style of comedy certainly isn’t for everyone. While the film earned a 99% rating by critics, the audience’s approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes sits at only 73%, and audience reviews from other websites echo the same feeling: that many of the film’s characters come off increasingly petty as the story wears on. The film certainly isn’t bad, but rating it near perfect is quite a stretch.
3. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – 28%
Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice are too often compared to films from the MCU, which is unfair in a lot of ways. While Marvel has had years to build a repertoire of sympathetic heroes, DC has been tasked with creating films that needed to feel readily distinguishable from the MCU, in a world where superhero saturation is at an all-time high. This has resulted in a more realistic, and sometimes less fun, franchise.
Since Batman V Superman came out in March of last year, comic book fans everywhere (including the writers at Screen Rant!) have picked apart everything that could have been better about the film. But while the movie certainly isn’t perfect, it’s far from unwatchable. In fact, the film only seems to improve with multiple viewings, and it certainly doesn’t hurt if those second or third viewings are of the film’s R-rated Ultimate Edition. Though we doubt critics will ever come around on this one, the unanimous distaste for Batman V Superman still feels undeserved.
2. Suicide Squad – 26%
If Batman V Superman suffered at the hands of extreme superhero hype, then Suicide Squad suffered at the hands of Batman V Superman. Though critics blasted the first film, Batman V Superman still managed to rake in an impressive amount at the box office, even if it underperformed by the studio’s standards. Thus, it seems like critics were looking to continue to lampoon the latest DC endeavor before it even hit theaters, and the call for last minute reshoots only added ammo to their arsenal.
The problem, once again, was too many sub-plots and not enough attention to detail. However, the film succeed by injecting a little levity into the franchise, all while it unabashedly refused to conform to the norms of other superhero films. After all, this was a film about self-centered and megalomaniacal antiheroes. While many of these antiheroes were never fully developed, the performances by Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Will Smith as Deadshot are enough to make Suicide Squad worth checking out.
1. Assassin’s Creed – 17%
You wouldn’t expect most critics to be overly excited about going to see a video game movie, because most of the time they are indeed terrible. From Max Payne to Hitman to Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, these video game adaptations undoubtedly earned their Rotten scores and we’ll make no attempt to defend them here. But we feel like Assassin’s Creed, while certainly not a perfect action movie, was a step in the right direction for game-based films.
While we agree that the plot was overly complicated and the hero underdeveloped, Assassin’s Creed featured its fair share of highlights in addition to its misfires. The sweeping visuals of 15th century Spain, along with the choice to keep the dialogue during these sequences in Spanish, brought a layer of realism that often goes out the window with video game adaptations. The action sequences were well choreographed and Jed Kurzel’s soundtrack was also one of the year’s best. The acting itself was only limited by the writing, and much of the hate for the film may have been a result of such a talented cast being victimized by an underdeveloped script. While we agree that Assassin’s Creed could have better served its fan base, its rating of only 17% comes off more than a little harsh.
So do you agree with our reassessments? Feel free to sound off in the comments!