We’ve all been there: we see a movie and we absolutely fall in love with it, only to find that the majority of people in the world had a wildly different opinion.
And every time you revisit it, you find yourself either wondering what they are all missing, or if you are simply crazy for being such a fan.
There are several movies on my list of favorites that I’m sure most people wouldn’t understand why I love them so much, so let’s talk about that. And who knows… maybe I’ll change your mind on one or two of them.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Let’s start off with one of the biggest conundrums for me: I simply do not understand the hatred that Crimes of Grindelwald has garnered over the years.
I will easily admit that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them had some issues. The pacing was off at times, and some details were easy to miss upon first (or even second, and maybe third) viewing. And while I think those complaints can also be attributed to the sequel, I think Rowling did a much better job with the story overall.
If anything, the issue with these movies is that Rowling wrote them as scripts; if these had been books, they would have easily been as big as the latter Potter books, filled with so much detail and character development. And maybe fans of her writing just aren’t used to seeing that complex a story reduced down to a script (I recall similar complaints about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), where a lot of the nuance and background details are harder to find. Scripts, after all, can be very dry to read compared to novels, since they lack everything that the actors and directors and set designers and everyone else are going to bring to the table to give it life.
And these scripts are, at times, almost as complex as Christopher Nolan’s Tenet; it was easy to watch Crimes of Grindelwald once and complain that certain things didn’t make sense (like Jacob still having most of his memories of the events from the first film, or the intricate game Grindelwald is playing to seduce Credence into joining him), but upon retrospect, the movies don’t miss a step in laying the groundwork and giving us the clues we need- I mean, this is J.K. Rowling we are talking about, she’s a master at weaving a mystery- it’s just that they are at times so easy to overlook that the movies require a second or third viewing (and though I said reading scripts can be a bit dry, it does help to read them to uncover any missed details).
If I could understand any complaint towards this film, it would be that long-time Potter fans aren’t used to seeing the movie without having first read the 800-page book that it is based on. Even though we’ve seen Potter movies before, the Fantastic Beasts films are almost a new medium for the franchise. And with Steve Kloves helping Rowling with the script of the third movie, maybe it will feel a little more polished than the previous two.
But that doesn’t explain why I love this movie. That explains why I like it when others don’t. Honestly, this is one of my favorites in the Potter franchise. I love this movie because it tells such a heartbreaking tale in Leta Lestrange’s backstory. I love it because characters like Jacob Kowalski and Nicholas Flamel are simply a joy to watch. I love it because James Newton Howard’s music for it is haunting and tragic and epic and beautiful.
And I love it because Eddie Redmayne gives one of the most genuine and emotional performances I’ve seen in this franchise (seriously, go watch the Salamander Eyes scene in the French Ministry again… no, go on, I’ll wait); as an introvert (and a Hufflepuff) myself, Newt is possibly the character I relate to most in any film I’ve ever seen, and the way Redmayne plays this character is worthy of awards that this film will never be considered for.
More than anything, though, I love this movie for the questions it sets up. I haven’t stopped discussing the movie since it came out in theaters, and I won’t stop discussing it until I’m seated in the theater for Fantastic Beasts 3. Like the books/movies before it, Rowling is expertly laying down the story in a way that continues to linger in my head and prompt me to examine it and question it and ponder it. Outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there really aren’t many movies that do that for me these days.
For me, those are all things that will continue to make me love this movie despite any shortcomings that it may have. I love it like I love the entire Harry Potter franchise, it is a part of who I am, and it hits a particularly special place in my story-loving heart that no amount of naysayers will ever be able to take away. I simply don’t care if you don’t like this movie, because I love it enough for both of us. And so I will forever cherish this movie…
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Ok, so I got a little wordy and emotional on that first entry. Let’s be honest with ourselves and prepare for me to do that with this one, too.
I say that because I probably love The Last Jedi almost as much as I loved Crimes of Grindelwald.
Hear me out on this one: whatever you expected the eighth Star Wars film to do differently, this was a good movie. Sure, it didn’t give us a badass Luke Skywalker; instead, it gave us a complex and broken character to study. Sure, it didn’t give us a well-known ancestry for Rey, but her being related to no one important to the Star Wars story was something I found way more compelling (yeah, I know she ended up being a Palpatine… shush… it was fun while it lasted). And sure, it gave us a story based on the Rebellion literally running out of fuel, and we’d never heard of any sort of fuel in Star Wars in the past, but what on earth did you think these space ships ran on? Hope?
Look, I get the complaints about this movie. Actually, no, I don’t, but I get why so many fans felt the need to complain; they entered the theater with expectations and those expectations were not met. But that happens all the time. And when that happens to me, I watch it again and try to see the movie for what it is, and not what I expected it to be. I don’t think this movie had problems; I think many fans had problems not being able to accept that the story-tellers had something different in mind. After all, Luke himself said, “this is not going to go the way you think!”
The Last Jedi is a compelling look at a flawed man who was thought to be a legend but was really just hiding from his own failures. They say you should never meet your heroes, and that’s exactly what Rey learned when she met Luke Skywalker. And though we didn’t get to see him take on the First Order with his lightsaber and Jedi acrobatics, it’s hard to say that his use of the Force to massively trick Kyle Ren wasn’t just as spectacular. It was. We’ve seen enough lightsaber fights in this franchise to last us a lifetime; we’ve never seen anyone use the Force like Luke did at the end of this movie.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Ok, so this might be an odd one to list because arguably anyone who was a fan of The Last Jedi probably hated The Rise of Skywalker, right?
Wrong. At least for me. Sure, I was disappointed that Rise of Skywalker didn’t pick up a lot of what Last Jedi put down. And after looking at what could have been with the Duel of the Fates script, I might long to see what that movie would have been like. And I’ve heard rumors that a lot of what John Williams wrote for this movie was instead replaced with music from the rest of the franchise; while all good music, I would love to have gotten a chance to hear anything else he wrote for it.
But none of that seemed to detract from the movie for me. Not in any meaningful way. In fact, I remember it being the most enjoyable Star Wars experience I had in the theater.
Just as I found Rey being no one compelling, I also found her being a Palpatine compelling as well; all this time, I’d figured if she was related to anyone, it was one of the good guys, not the galactic big bad of the franchise. And I thought Palps worked as the final villain, too, because he has always been the main antagonist in the entire franchise. Sure, they might have stumbled a bit in explaining the logistics of his return, but in retrospect, I found it made sense that Snoke was merely a puppet for him and that he had been enticing Ben Solo by masquerading as Vader’s voice in his head.
It isn’t my favorite Star Wars movie, but I still loved it, and apparently way more than most of the fandom.
Batman V Superman
If Zack Snyder’s Justice League has proven anything, it is that Snyder had a vision. I’ve written at length about that movie (you can read that here), but I wouldn’t have loved it so much if I hadn’t first been in love with Batman V Superman.
Yeah, I know, most people didn’t like that movie; in fact, I was one of them. When I first saw it, I kinda hated it. But it sat with me for the next day or so, and the more that I thought about it, the less I could point out what, exactly, I’d hated about it. So I went to see it again. And I loved it.
No, the movie is not without its problems; in fact, at times it is a complete mess. But I was able to look past those issues to find a story that I truly fell in love with. I loved seeing Superman having to deal with more real-world issues like consequences. I loved seeing how Batman reacted to the destruction of Metropolis and how rage fueled his drive to destroy Superman before Superman could destroy us. And I loved seeing Lex Luthor manipulating them both at every turn. And of course, we can’t forget that this movie introduced us to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman.
I have to say, however, that the extended cut of the movie is what really made it work for me, especially with Lex. Sure, Jesse Eisenberg was a bit more maniacal and wasn’t very “Gene Hackman” in his portrayal of the character, but the extended cut really fleshed out how he was moving in both Batman’s and Superman’s stories to pit them against each other.
At the end of the day, I absolutely love Batman V Superman, flaws and all. Yes, it is dark as hell, but that’s what I love about it; for me, Batman works best in dark, desolate stories, and this was about as dark as they come. I love Marvel movies with a fiery passion, but I don’t need my DC movies to be carbon copies of those; they’ll each find their success forging their own paths, and if Zack Snyder’s Justice League is any proof, Batman V Superman was absolutely the right path for the DCEU (I just wish Warner Bros. had realized that from the start).
I was lucky enough to see an early screening of Speed Racer a couple of weeks before it was released in theaters, and I loved it so much that it was pure torture waiting for the movie to come out in theaters so that I could see it again. Then, to my utter dismay, I seemed to be one of a very select few who enjoyed the movie.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what I love about it; I’m not a racing fan at all (although my grandfather watched Nascar religiously). Maybe it is the action, or the vibrant, cartoon-style colors. Maybe it is the music (this was one of the first Michael Giacchino scores I’d ever heard), or the characters.
But if I had to guess, I’d say it is the story. Not the racing story, but the heart of it. The right versus wrong, the little guys versus the big corporation. The movie didn’t have to be about racing for me to enjoy it, it just had to tell this story (although the racing definitely makes it heart-pounding).
Honestly, I think Speed Racer was a movie before its time; it came out just a week before Iron Man, a week before Marvel’s mighty MCU kicked off. And I just don’t think people were ready for it. But if it had come out now, after movies like Thor: Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy, I think Speed Racer might just have been a wild success. Here’s hoping that one day, Warner Bros. will reconsider making some sequels (though I think it is unlikely, given that they still aren’t budging on reinstating the Snyderverse in the DCEU).
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a classic and one that many people- including myself- didn’t really think needed to be remade. But remake it Tim Burton did, in the way only Tim Burton could.
I think it is best to view this movie not as a remake of the 1970’s movie but rather as a new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, which is exactly what Tim Burton’s movie is. Comparing it to Gene Wilder and those classic songs, the movie has a hard time standing up. But on its own, it is a more faithful adaptation of the book and I for one loved Johnny Depp’s version of Wonka.
I get that it is probably a polarizing take on the character, but what really has me attached to Depp’s weird Wonka is how far a departure it was from anything I’d seen him in up to that point. When I saw Charlie, I really only knew Depp from Pirates of the Caribbean. This was my first real experience seeing an actor dive so deep into the character that he was unrecognizable from his other roles and I was hooked. Plus, I just really love weird characters, and Wonka is right up at the top of that list with the likes of the Doctor from Doctor Who (and there are theories that the chocolatier might actually be a Time Lord himself… I’d pay to watch that movie).
Though it wasn’t a musical in the same sense that Willy Wonka was, the Oompa Loompa songs in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (based on the lyrics in the books and written and performed by Danny Elfman) are super-catchy, and even to this day I will not skip “Augustus Gloop” if it comes up on my playlist.
I grew up with the musical, but Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite book adaptations, one of my favorite Tim Burton movies, and an entirely enjoyable experience from start to finish.
And there you have it; a few movies that I happen to really love that most people seem to harbor some major dislike for. Maybe I’ve changed your mind on a few of them; maybe I haven’t.
But the more important thing to take away is this: if you find a movie that you love, don’t let the world tell you that it is a bad movie or that you shouldn’t like it. After all, if you love it, that’s all that really matters, right?
(unless, of course, you were hoping for a sequel…)