Unpopular opinions are the bread and butter of online film discourse. Hot takes about blockbusters and genre film staples have stoked endless debates on social media. If the internet has proven anything, no film is sacred, and everything is prone to criticism. The most popular movies, franchises and directors are particularly susceptible to contrarian opinions that go against the grain of critical praise and audience appreciation.
While most hot takes tend to fade immediately against the popular consensus, some stick around and maintain a strong foothold within the film going community. These ideas still represent a minority view, but they’ve developed enough of a voice that they’ve become popular in their own right, and represent a shift in how fans and fandoms incorporate new ideas. Here are a few unpopular opinions that have carved out a permanent place in the larger film conversation.
10 Hayden Christensen was Great in the Star Wars Prequels
Hayden Christensen was no stranger to backlash for his performance as Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels. Christensen received faint praise for doing the best he could with the material provided. But with a role that required constant angst and offered nothing but stilted diatribes about sand, it’s no wonder that Christensen received little to no recognition for his turn as the Sith Lord. With few starring roles following the release of Revenge of the Sith, it seemed that Christensen’s name was forever sullied by the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Fortunately, it appears that The Force has balanced itself over time, as Christensen’s performance has undergone a critical re-evaluation thanks to the Star Wars fanbase’s evolving relationship with the prequels. Dave Filoni’s animated Clone Wars series added much needed characterization to Skywalker’s teenage angst, retroactively giving Hayden Christensen’s role in the 3 live-action films more depth and context. Younger audiences have a newfound, earnest appreciation for the prequels thanks to its life as a meme format, while older fans have come to recognize the mistreatment that other prequel actors Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best received for their work on the sci-fi epics. Together, these two groups within the fandom have developed into a passionate and supportive group for Christensen, who is now admired for his role as Anakin, as seen in the overwhelmingly positive fan response when he reappeared for the Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series. While general movie going audiences may have forgotten about Hayden Christensen since stepping out of theaters in 2005, he’s become a staple of the franchise among fans.
9 Michael Bay Is an Auteur
In a landscape dominated by superheroes, franchises, and legacy sequels, there’s little room for new blockbusters to cut through the noise and reach general audiences. Michael Bay seemed to doomed to be lumped in with the worst of this leftover blockbuster fare, following diminishing critical and commercial success of his Transformers films. By the release of Transformers: The Last Knight, it seemed like most had written off the director as a has-been who’d made a few fun, dumb action movies in the 90’s.
However, following the release of his latest film Ambulance, a new narrative began to take shape: Michael Bay is an auteur. Ambulance featured all the hallmarks of a Michael Bay film – it was absurd, action-packed and explosive. “Bayhem,” a term coined to describe Bay’s distinct visual style, has been a relevant term for cinephiles for as long as the director’s been making films. However, it now serves as a term of endearment and a recognition of his technical expertise behind the camera. Amidst all the trailers for new sequels featuring returning characters, a title card that reads “Directed by Michael Bay” might illicit groans from a general audience, but a few grins from those “in the know” too.
8 Speed Racer Is One of the Best Film Adaptations
General audiences were curious what the Wachowski sisters would do next following 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions. Would they attempt another sci-fi action mind-bender?
The sisters certainly subverted expectations when they adapted Speed Racer, the 1960s racing anime, for the big screen. Immediate critical reception was mixed at best, dismissive of its hyperactive, bubblegum visuals and cardboard characters. But in the years that have followed, the film has found its audience, with many praising its visually stunning take on the original anime.
When considering new adaptations like Illumination’s Sonic films and HBO’s The Last of Us, it’s clear that audiences expect and support faithful film adaptations of their favorite media. Studios have learned that realistic spins of fan-favorite source material can backfire spectacularly – looking at you, Dragonball Evolution. Speed Racer manages to capture the spirit of the anime without forsaking the cartoonish elements for the sake of realism. It’s an oversaturated, hyperactive spectacle that’s gaining favor as the years go on.
7 Dune Is Boring
Denis Villeneuve is one of the most highly-regarded directors in the industry today. With an impressive body of work spanning multiple genres, from neo-westerns to sci-fi, he’s garnered significant acclaim for every film he’s directed. His latest effort, the adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune was no exception. Initially praised for its faithful adaptation of the classic science fiction novel, the film received widespread awards recognition for its impressive visuals and ambitious vision.
However, in the year following its release, an opinion emerged among filmgoers who simply argued that Dune was a boring watch. At first, it was seen as a weak and easy criticism of the 2.5-hour science fiction epic, especially in light of Villeneuve’s ability to film a seemingly unfilmable book. But a quiet critical consensus pointed to the film being visually spectacular but oftentimes slow, mirroring the slightly more tepid general audience reception. Audiences that expected a satisfactory conclusion in part one of the two part series were left wanting – and these voices have developed into a widespread view among fans and critics alike. It seems that even the Villeneuve isn’t immune to the challenges that come with adapting sprawling and complex books to the big screen.
6 The Hobbit Films Are Underappreciated
Even the biggest fans of The Hobbit trilogy conceded that it was inferior to the Peter Jackson’s earlier Lord of the Rings adaptations in nearly every way, save for the acting. CGI was used in lieu of practical effects, and the story was ballooned to 3 movies when 1 would have sufficed. The Hobbit trilogy immediately left the cultural conversation following the release of The Battle of Five Armies, and fans were quick to move on to the next adaptation of Tolkien’s sprawling legendarium.
In light of the release of Amazon’s Rings of Power series, however, the tides have begun to shift back in Jackson’s favor. The streaming series saw extreme dissatisfaction from Tolkien fans for its loose adaptation of the author’s work, often compared unfavorably to the attention to detail Jackson placed in adapting the source material for The Hobbit. The trilogy’s rushed production may have prevented the project from materializing as Jackson would have hoped, but fans have come around to appreciating his effort nonetheless. When taken into the grand context of Jackson’s entire Tolkien adaptation, the whole works better than the parts for a portion of the audience.
5 Christopher Nolan Movies Are Overly Complicated
Christopher Nolan has always been recognized for his twist-filled, complex films ever since he burst onto the scene with Memento. He ushered in an era of elevated blockbusters with the likes of Inception and Interstellar, attracting huge moviegoing audiences regardless of their willingness to debate the film afterwards. But with the release of Tenet, it seems that even his most ardent fans have started to reconsider their love for his heady films.
Tenet saw a significant portion of Nolan’s fanbase recognize that plot mechanics took precedence over good storytelling and emotional character arcs. It’s an opinion that others have recognized in his previous films like Interstellar, where concepts of love are spelled out literally for the sake of exposition. The notion that Nolan films are overly complicated isn’t a position reserved for people that don’t “get him” anymore.
4 Halloween 3 Is One of the Best Films in the Halloween Franchise
Halloween III: Season of the Witch isn’t necessarily considered the “best” film in the Halloween franchise by most fans and critics. But the idea behind Season of the Witch’s creation has gained significant support over the years, coming to a head with the biggest Michael Myers fans.
The film deviates from the Michael Myers storyline and instead focuses on a new plot involving a Halloween mask manufacturer and their sinister plot to sacrifice children on Halloween night. John Carpenter had envisioned the Halloween franchise as an anthology series, and Halloween III served as the proof of concept – unfortunately, it was critically derided upon its release. To this day, most consider it an outlier in the franchise, and might be inclined to skip it when doing a marathon of their favorite holiday slasher.
But Season of the Witch has gained a cult following over the years specifically for its departure from the slasher formula. It’s unique premise and themes, coupled with John Carpenter’s incredible score make it a treasured 80s horror time capsule. After 12 other Halloween movies featuring Michael Meyers, some fans consider Halloween III a welcome entry to the franchise, and a proof of concept that deserves another shot.
3 Prometheus Was a Good Addition to the Aliens Universe
If Halloween 3 marked an unexpected and unwanted departure from the Halloween franchise, then Prometheus was a desirable but disappointing addition to the Aliens universe for most. Set in the same universe as the iconic Xenomorphs, the film explores the origin of the creatures and serves as a backdoor prequel to the entire Aliens franchise. Critics were keen on pointing out the plot holes, character decisions, and narrative issues that prevented the film from entering the pantheon of great Alien films. For every new idea presented in the film, fans were greeted with a dozen more that would remain unanswered.
Years later and Prometheus seems to have earned its place as part of the Aliens cinematic universe – perhaps solely through Ridley Scott’s insistence that it’s treated as such. Far removed from the immediate response, film enthusiasts are re-discovering the film with a more appreciative lens. It’s similar to the Michael Bay example above – compared to the familiar franchises and legacy sequels available today, a director committing to and releasing a passion project is rare. Even amidst its flaws, Prometheus is currying more favor for its expansion of the Aliens universe from the mind that brought it to life in the first place.
2 The Revenant Was Not an Oscar-worthy Performance from Leonardo Dicaprio
Awards have the most elastic unpopular opinions. Amidst the immediate fervor of a surprising or monumental win, there will always be those that contest the winner, suggesting that a more deserving artist was snubbed in the process. With hindsight, we can see the trajectories of films and actors, and reconsider if they truly deserved an award over someone else
Which brings us to Leonardo DiCaprio’s Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in The Revenant. In 2016, it was nearly unfathomable that Leo hadn’t won an Oscar yet, given his long and acclaimed filmography. His performance in The Revenant was practically designed to win him the award, with his physicality on full display. Every interview at the time was sure to highlight the rough conditions he lived in and put his body through for the role.
However, much like Al Pacino’s win for Scent of a Woman, DiCaprio’s win is seen more as a celebration of his career over his performance. The opinion has grown over the years, from an unpopular dismissal of his work to conventional wisdom about this practice in the Academy Awards.
1 Marvel Movies Aren’t Cinema
Martin Scorsese caused a stir in the film world in 2019 when he proclaimed that Marvel movies aren’t true cinema, but more akin to the cheap thrills of theme parks. MCU fans treated this like a declaration of war, especially considering that Scorsese’s statement came fresh off the heels of Avengers: Endgame, the culmination of a decade of Marvel films and one of the most commercially successful films of all time.
Scorsese’s statement spiraled out into a continuing discourse about where Marvel belongs in the history of cinema, but it also served to draw a line in the sand for MCU fans and self-proclaimed cinephiles. Adding to the division is the extreme growth of the MCU in the years following Scorsese’s statement. With even more movies and new ventures into television, the MCU has grown bigger and more insular.
Although the Scorsese definition of cinema has gained traction, the success of recent films such as Thor: Love and Thunder and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at the box office suggests that there is still a substantial appetite for Marvel movies. Die-hard fans will continue to dismiss Scorsese’s statement, and other filmgoing audiences will find entertainment in other film offerings. What’s clear is that the division represents an equal division among fans and detractors, each viewing the other side as the holder of an unpopular opinion.