12 Movies So Good You Overlook Major Flaws
No matter how much you love a movie, none of them are perfect, and even the best-crafted film will have at least a couple of nitpicky flaws that can’t be fully ignored.
But sometimes, great movies will bring with them considerable baggage in the way of an abundant issue which fans have to overlook in order to fully enjoy. This is where the term “flawed masterpiece” comes from: an ambitious, terrifically crafted film that nevertheless falls short in a few key areas.
No piece of art is perfect, but it’s precisely because the core of these movies is so damn enthralling that you’re able to look past a huge flaw or two that might derail a lesser film…
12. Too Much Exposition, Not Enough Insanity – Inception
The “really good, but really flawed” criticism applies to the majority of Christopher Nolan’s movies in fairness – especially his much-loved yet widely-scrutinised Dark Knight trilogy – but it’s most blatantly apparent in his ingenious 2010 action thriller Inception.
There are two main issues: firstly, Nolan’s usual penchant for excessive expository dialogue is at its absolute worst here. Ellen Page’s Ariadne serves as the audience character to the point that she, in one scene, literally asks another character, “Wait, whose subconscious are we going into exactly?”
From a commercial perspective it was probably a smart idea, to broaden the movie out and make it more easily understood by casuals, but on a storytelling level for those actually paying attention? Not so satisfying, and pretty damn distracting.
The other major issue, as cited by many critics, is the oddly unimaginative nature of the dream worlds.
Ultimately a folding city was the craziest thing in any of the dreamscapes, but as we all know, dreams tend to be far less literal, grounded and logical than Nolan depicts them in the film.
Considering he had $160 million to work with, it’s a shame Nolan didn’t take his own advice and, ahem, “dream a little bigger, darling.”
11. The Painfully Long Ending – The Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King
Peter Jackson’s Best Picture-winning finale to his epic fantasy saga is one of the best movies of its kind, no question.
But as is consistent with the man who went on to milk The Hobbit’s 310 pages for three bloated movies, Return of the King is a bit infamous for its overdone, elongated final passage.
Hell, at the 2004 Golden Globe Awards Jack Nicholson even told star Elijah Wood that the movie had “Too many endings, man” and as a result he had to leave the cinema before it finished.
If you actually saw the movie during its theatrical run, you might remember the surreal experience of thinking the movie’s going to end numerous times, getting your bag and coat ready, and then finding yet another addendum to its bladder-busting run-time.
There are literally lists ranking the movie’s many endings, and the film is the textbook example of “ending fatigue”, given that the finale contains six (!) fade-outs and lasts a whole half-hour once Sauron has been defeated.
Though Jackson’s desire to give his epic saga a comprehensive ending is understandable, and it’s all good material, the sum of it is a little tough to take, and even just some mild trimming would’ve been a solid mercy here.
Then again knowing Jackson, the ending we’re looking at has probably been shaved down considerably already.
10. The T-Rex Paddock Plot Hole – Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park is without question one of Hollywood’s greatest blockbusters and an undeniable high-point of Steven Spielberg’s career.
It’s also rife with a few peculiar plot holes, with the director clearly hoping audiences would be so enamoured with the effects and sense of adventure that they wouldn’t notice or care.
He’s mostly right, but there’s one gaffe which feels especially sloppy and careless for such a huge, complex movie.
When the T-Rex first breaks free from its paddock, we can see it walking on level ground, but later on, the area has magically transformed itself into a cliff edge that Alan Grant (Sam Neill) rappels down. Where did the cliff come from, and how could the T-Rex stand there?
Some have argued that the movie simply failed to explain a plot point from the book, that a moat is built between the T-Rex and the fence, but nothing we see visually really suggests that’s true in this case.
It feels more like an attempt to cover for a shockingly blatant continuity error from a master filmmaker.
9. The Time Travel Makes No Sense – Looper
Rian Johnson’s ludicrously entertaining sci-fi classic requires an enormous suspension of disbelief in order to buy into its fairly shaky time travel mechanics. This is to such an extent that the movie literally has Bruce Willis’ future Joe telling the audience, “The logic is cloudy, don’t overthink it and just enjoy the ride.”
Many have taken umbrage with the scene where Seth (Paul Dano) is dismembered in the past, resulting in his future body being continually altered and re-written with missing limbs.
Because of course, typical time travel logic dictates that Seth’s initial dismemberment would’ve altered his life trajectory significantly, and the future scene would’ve never actually happened.
It’s a causal paradox and one that the movie attempts to lampshade with Willis’ diner talk, though it still rubs a lot of fans the wrong way.
This is also true with young Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) scrawling the name of the waitress Beatrix into his arm, which surely would’ve had an influence on Joe’s ability to marry his wife. After all, who the hell would marry a guy with another woman’s name carved on their arm?
Johnson at least makes an above-average attempt to hand-waive the shaky logic as intentionally amorphous, but it’s still immensely frustrating.
8. It’s Extremely Racist & Kate Capshaw Is Super Annoying – Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom
Watching the second Indiana Jones movie for the first time as an adult was quite an eye-opening experience after blindly loving it as a kid.
To call Spielberg’s depiction of the Indian locals racist is an understatement in the least, painting them as stereotypically fond of eating snakes and monkey brains, while revering Indy (Harrison Ford) as a white saviour. And of course, followers of the Hindu goddess Kali have a penchant for ripping out people’s hearts, because why not?
The Indian government banned the film on release, and while the first and third Indy movies have aged astonishingly well, Temple of Doom feels extremely dated with its blatant insensitivity.
That’s not to forget The Temple of Doom’s other big frustration: Kate Capshaw’s grating, almost movie-derailing performance as Willie Scott. Enough has been said over the years about her only winning the part because Spielberg had the hots for her, but the shoe fits.
Rag all you like on Raiders of the Lost Ark for making Indy a passive protagonist or for all that fridge-nuking nonsense in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (though the latter certainly doesn’t qualify as a great film), yet between its shameless racism and Capshaw’s headache-inducing work, there’s a lot of problematic content to put up with in an otherwise rip-roaring adventure.
7. The Exposition-Filled Ending – Psycho
Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is indisputably one of the greatest genre films ever made, a white-knuckle horror flick that’s lost none of its terror almost six decades later.
It does, however, get docked a point for its disappointingly heavy-handed finale, in which a psychiatrist spoon-feeds the audience an assessment of Norman Bates’ (Anthony Perkins) mental state, even doling out his disturbing backstory and filling us in on how Norman got to this point.
Obviously in the early 1960s audiences weren’t as aware of mental health issues as we are today, so Hitch’s concession is understandable even if it’s the single aspect of the film that feels truly dated and hokey today.
Legendary film critic Pauline Kael even famously called it “arguably Hitchcock’s worst scene”, and she just might be right.
Thankfully after 90 minutes of taut brilliance from the master of suspense, it’s not toopainful having to sit through this overly tidy wrap-up.
6. Deckard & Rachael’s Problematic Relationship – Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve’s belated Blade Runner sequel is a stunning follow-up that arguably outdoes its predecessor in a number of ways, yet the unfortunate reality is that the emotional crux of the story is built on the deeply problematic relationship between Deckard (Harrison Ford) and his replicant “lover” Rachael (Sean Young).
Though Blade Runner 2049 paints the two as having a genuinely loving relationship which eventually resulted in Rachael giving birth to the first ever replicant child, this is ultimately a huge retcon of the more unsettling dynamic present in the 1982 movie.
The infamous “love” scene in Ridley Scott’s original is really an act of sexual assault if not flat-out rape, in which Deckard forces himself on Rachael and denies her any chance to escape.
Contextually this is fine from a character and storytelling perspective in that it cements Deckard’s dismissive view of the replicants as anything but alive, but the sequel’s attempt to re-write their “relationship” as acceptable comes off a little awkward.
Thankfully the movie has other emotional through-lines that it executes far more successfully – namely K’s (Ryan Gosling) existential spirit quest – and, outside of this admittedly significant issue, it is a masterful movie in practically every sense.
5. Cameron Diaz Is Wildly Miscast – Gangs Of New York
Martin Scorsese’s period crime epic is a movie within which lies a flabbergasting masterpiece, yet its messier elements just don’t quite come together into a fully potent whole.
It’s not one of Scorsese’s best but it is a terrifically evocative period piece with a force-of-nature performance from Daniel Day-Lewis as the villainous Bill the Butcher.
Leonardo DiCaprio is solid if hardly on top form, but the movie’s most prominent issue is the presence of a distractingly miscast Cameron Diaz. Now, this isn’t just an excuse to rag on the actress – because lord knows, the Internet loves doing that – but she indeed feels fundamentally wrong for the part.
It’s not just that Cameron Diaz, the movie star, sticks out in a period piece filled with actors disappearing into their roles, but also that her pickpocket Jenny feels shoehorned into the film simply so a pretty starlet can be cast to give the film a more mainstream appeal.
The romance is a needless stock element in a movie already overflowing with tension and intriguing character dynamics. Though Meryl Streep herself would’ve struggled to make much of the part, Diaz is an especially cynical casting choice.
4. Scott’s Too Unlikeable – Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
Edgar Wright’s surreal comic book adaptation is an hilarious, visually jaw-dropping delight, though it loses a little of its lustre when you think about the movie’s depiction of protagonist Scott (Michael Cera) and the actual reality of his actions.
The film doesn’t shy away from Scott’s douchebaggery entirely, but it certainly does downplay it in favour of too-cool-for-school hipster idolatry and a fairly unearned sentimental ending.
Above all else, we’re supposed to like Scott eventually, certainly once he’s obtained a sense of what passes for self-respect at the end of the movie.
Scott of course begins the film on a pretty rough note, dating the underage Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) and soon enough cheating on her with Manic Pixie Dream Girl Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Given Scott’s offputting combination of awkwardness and narcissism, though, it’s tough to see what so many attractive women see in him throughout the movie, to say nothing of the fact that Cera’s chemistry with Winstead is strained at best.
As a couple their combined obnoxiousness makes them even tougher to root for, especially as they were decidedly easier to like in the comics, flaws and all.
The film wants us to buy that Scott has grown over the course of his boyfriend-beating adventure, but him making peace with both Knives and Ramona at the end of the film feels tremendously forced.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with giving audiences an a**hole protagonist, but don’t contrive an epiphany for that character and expect viewers to cheer for it.
3. The Performances Are Terrible – Saw
Saw is the only movie on this list that didn’t exactly review well with critics, but ever since release it has been warmly embraced by genre fans for its unique premise, clever use of its low-budget and, of course, its mind-blowing twist ending.
But there’s no getting around it: the acting in this movie sucks.
If this was the first movie you saw acting vet Cary Elwes in, you’d probably assume he was a regular on the straight-to-video circuit, because his hammy line readings and constantly wavering American accent are intensely distracting.
This culminates in an unintentionally hilarious finale where, after cutting off his foot off, Elwes’ Dr. Gordon blatantly switches to a British accent and sounds like a coked-up Ozzy Osbourne as he screams, “I’ll f***ing kill you!”
As the movie’s writer and co-star, Leigh Whannell sadly isn’t any better. It’s one of his first acting roles and it really shows, bouncing between stiff-as-a-board and wildly over-affected.
Given that about 80% of the movie is just the two of them chained up in a mouldy bathroom exchanging terrible deliveries, it’s truly impressive that Saw is as good as it is and has enjoyed so much success.
2. The CGI Is Atrocious – Black Panther
Black Panther became an instant pop-culture phenomenon upon releasing earlier this year, while scoring rave reviews from critics and being generally accepted as one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s strongest efforts to date.
So, what the hell happened with the movie’s CGI?
Despite its $200 million budget, the movie’s VFX are, uh, inconsistent to say the least. The physics of Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) flipping around look goopy and unrealistic, the final fight against Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) has all the visual fidelity of a dated video game cut-scene, and let’s not even get started on those CGI war rhinos. Yikes.
Considering that most MCU movies boast solid – if unremarkable – CGI, it was especially noticeable that Black Panther blatantly released before it was finished. Its notably rushed production presumably left the VFX artists with insufficient time to deliver to the expected standard.
It’s still a great movie, of course, but the climactic fight in particular is a genuine eye-sore in a film with so many iconic moments.
1. Mark Hamill’s Wooden Acting – Star Wars: A New Hope
George Lucas’ original Star Wars is of course a movie filled with wonder and awe, but if you ever asked yourself why Mark Hamill never became an A-lister in his own right following its release, go back and watch the film again.
Though Hamill does a passable job conveying Luke’s young naivete, his line readings often dare to be legitimately wooden and awful on regular occasion.
The unbearably whiny “power converters” line is the most egregious example, though many still defend it to the hilt. But the artifice of Hamill’s performance is present throughout thanks to his regularly stilted delivery.
While he improved considerably in the sequels – and gave a genuinely strong performance in The Last Jedi – Hamill himself admitted that he doesn’t watch A New Hope due to how little he likes his own performance in it.
He doesn’t sink the movie, of course, but it’s easy to appreciate why studio execs saw his performance here and were probably immediately dismissive of him when considering other blockbuster projects.
Do these flaws in otherwise great movies bother you much? Got any other suggestions? Shout them out in the comments!