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You Can't Please Everyone: Negative Reviews Of Some Of The Best Loved Films In Cinema History

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 17, 2012 at 10:02AM

As you may have noticed, the review embargo on "The Dark Knight Rises" broke yesterday, and the word, including that from our own Todd Gilchrist, is mostly good. We say mostly, because as with most films, there are objections from a few reviews -- Christy Lemire from the Associated Press, Marshall Fine at Hollywood & Fine, Christopher Tookey at the Daily Mail, Devin Faraci at Bad Ass Digest -- coming in on the negative side of the fence. And as has become increasingly common in the last few years -- particularly with Christopher Nolan's films, Pixar movies, and even "The Avengers" -- the fans are in uproar at the sheer concept that reviewers dare give a negative notice to "The Dark Knight Rises" (regardless of the fact that these fans haven't yet seen the film for themselves).
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Casablanca
"Casablanca"
"The love story that takes us from time to time into the past is horribly wooden, and clichés everywhere lower the tension." — William Whitebait, The New Statesman

"So I finally got around to watching Casablanca, one of the greatest movies ever made, or so I've always heard. Does it live up to its hype? In a word, no. It was maudlin and melodramatic; Ingrid Bergman was homely, no matter how many softening effects were used in the close-ups of her face (did a rodent gnaw off the sides of her nose? To say nothing of that masculine jawbone and those underdeveloped lips...); Humphrey Bogart was about as slick and charismatic as the Hunchback of Notre-Dame; and the story was undisguised war propaganda. One would have to have the mental age of 5 to think this movie was in any way great. Watchable, yes, but not great, and certainly not deserving of being on the IMDb top 250.
The movie was fast-paced, which was both good and bad: good because it would've been unbearable to watch otherwise, and bad because it didn't give the viewer time to get attached to any of the characters (which is just as well, since as I've said, it was war propaganda and so the less effective, the better). - le_chiffre-1 , IMDB

Raging Bull
"Raging Bull"
"Robert De Niro is one of the most repugnant and unlikeable screen protagonists in some time... the director excels at whipping up an emotional storm, but seems unaware that there is any need for quieter, more introspective scenes in drama... the scenes it does choose to show are almost perversely chosen to alienate the audience - Joseph McBride, Variety

Oh my is this film terrible. I really wanted to like this film, honest; in fact, I bought it before actually seeing it. Seriously though, this film is grossly pregnant; there is nothing there; it's fluff; get it? Forgebodit!! Boxing movies are stupid enough as is, next to football flicks of course. However, I thought, "Well it's a Scorsese flick, he'll do something meaningful." Nope!!! Just a bunch of swearing, violent, irrational, testosterone-junkie wops walking around beating their women saying forgebodit. Peachy, let me tell ya; in fact, I want my time back, dig. This film is boring, redundant, annoying, and meaningless. The cinematography is somewhat sharp, but then again, somewhat sharp is just dull. One last thing, just because a film is black/white does not make it art...K?...K. - Kevin Cordia, IMDB

Lawrence of Arabia
"Lawrence Of Arabia"
"It is such a laboriously large conveyance of eye-filling outdoor spectacle—such as brilliant display of endless desert and camels and Arabs and sheiks and skirmishes with Turks and explosions and arguments with British military men—that the possibly human, moving T. E. Lawrence is lost in it. We know little more about this strange man when it is over than we did when it begins... The fault seems to lie, first in the concept of telling the story of this self-tortured man against a background of action that has the characteristic of a mammoth Western film. The nature of Lawrence cannot be captured in grand Super-Panavision shots of sunrise on the desert or in scenes of him arguing with a shrewd old British general in a massive Moorish hall... The fault is also in the lengthy but surprisingly lusterless dialogue of Robert Bolt's over-written screenplay. Seldom has so little been said in so many words... sadly, this bold Sam Spiegel picture lacks the personal magnetism, the haunting strain of mysticism and poetry that we've been thinking all these years would be dominant when a film about Lawrence the mystic and the poet was made. It reduces a legendary figure to conventional movie-hero size amidst magnificent and exotic scenery but a conventional lot of action-film cliches. - Bosley Crowther, The New York Times

The first thing I'm looking for in a movie is "historical accuracy".Since the movie takes its name from the leading character Lawrence let me ask you a question to those who casted a top-ten vote for this movie?Do you really know how Lawrence looked like?Six foot two inch Peter O'Toole differed strikingly with the real Lawrence, who was almost nine inches shorter.Lawrence was not a gung-ho drama queen who lead a nation to freedom.Most scenes such as the attack on Aqaba were heavily fictionalized from the writings of Lawrence.You can easily question how much he is reliable.Lawrence mentions in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom that he was raped by the Turkish Bey which was called into question by the historians.(Check out the article : Lawrence of Arabia 'made up' sex attack by Turk troops By Elizabeth Day) Not only most scenes are heavily fictionalized but some characters are a bunch of fiction too like Sheriff Ali,Mr. Dryden and Colonel Brighton. The movie neither tells you anything from the Turkish point point of view nor does it tell anything about the real Arab points. Yes it's a well-know truth that the Arabs were tricked into fighting against the Turks by the British and they have been paying the price by being belittled by the westerners for centuries.But the movie shows us only a bunch of Bedouin tribes which are desert dwelling nomadic people. Not every Arab is (and was)a Bedouin. The historians say that the real Lawrence actually shunned the limelight, as evidenced by his attempts after the war to hide under various assumed names but the British officers certainly did not the find the attack outrageous since the Great(!) British Empire can finally be positioned at a table with the French to take care of the rest of the Turkish empire.And according to Wikipedia the film's portrayal of General Allenby as a cynical, manipulative superior to Lawrence is not entirely accurate either. Allenby and Lawrence respected and liked each other, and Lawrence once said of Allenby that he was "an admiration of mine"... There are people who claim that such fictionalization was necessary to dramatize the great Lawrence character but I say "watch out! The devil lurks in the little details" - shutterbug_iconium, IMDB

This article is related to: Features, The Dark Knight Rises